For many Americans, our thoughts drift to North America’s original people only once or twice a year. But thanks to the Cleveland Indians’ World Series appearance and the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, you may have thought about Native Americans at some point before our national holiday.
Thanksgiving offers a critical time for many of us to reflect on our nation’s history, says Randy Woodley, a Keetoowah Cherokee and professor of faith and culture at George Fox University.
“Thanksgiving is a deep mythology within the American psyche,” said Woodley, who suggests that many of us have sanitized the holiday.
“For three days they had this festival and no one questions what happens after,” he said. “The story is so treacherous and ugly that our mythology only includes what we want to feel good about.”
For decades and later centuries after this peaceful and celebratory meal between the Pilgrims and Native Americans, settlers clashed violently with Indians and forcibly converted them to Christianity and “civilized” them.
There was little understanding from Americans that Natives had something to offer them and their culture. They still do, says Woodley: the values of generosity and consensus.
Woodley joined Morgan and guest-host Richard Clark to discuss why he himself chooses to celebrate Thanksgiving, how he learned to love Jesus despite the religion’s ugly impact on his ancestors, and the uncomfortable conditions it took for settlers to share their faith with Native Americans.
What is Quick to Listen? Read more.
You can follow our hosts on Twitter: Morgan Lee and Richard Clark
You can follow our guest on Twitter: Randy Woodley
You can read more about Woodley’s organization: Eagle’s Wings Ministry
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more